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Social Media Strategies

As mentioned before, social media success doesn’t happen overnight- it’s a long-term plan, a social media strategy. Lois Kelly and BL Ochman lay out some tips for successful strategies using social media. Developing a strategy means that you have a goal in mind, a goal with measurable objectives which will provide the foundation to your social media presence. Without goals and objectives your organization could use different media incoherently, not accomplish much at all, and have nothing in the end to measure to see if the use of social media was beneficial or not. As part of your strategy, you must develop a coherent plan of action, meaning that all your agencies (IT, digital, marketing, sales…) must work together and not compete with each other. Working together will best drive traffic to your websites, and collaborating internal involvement is key to integrate your social media strategy into to overarching goal of your organization.

A key piece to putting together a social media plan is getting the “OK” from the top executives because down the line you will meet less opposition, which will expedite the changes to your company. You also want to involve the legal teams, who, along with execs, are sometimes hard to convince utilizing social media is the best strategy. Legal teams can put together guidelines for the best use of networking sites to ensure the protection of the organization. The next step then, is to educate your employees of how to properly use social media to their advantage.

A great example of a well-implemented social media strategy is through Best Buy Co., Inc. Gina Debogovich, manager and communities/social media strategist for Best Buy, created a presentation outlining Best Buy’s social media engagement. The overall goal is to show that they are concerned and connected retailers in online community relationships, through objectives such as educating people about the technologies they supply, decreasing sale-related stress, and drive product discussions in their online blogs, forums, and other available networks. Barry Judge is the CMO for Best Buy and in the video (below) expands on the intentions of their social media plan. They developed a campaign called “Dream Support,” which creates an experience in and out of stores to know the reasons why consumers buy the products they want, to see technologies “come to life,” and to show customers how to use their products to make their dreams come true. Judge expresses the power of transparency in building trust – the more of both good and bad that are shown the better.

Judge himself has a blog where he provides unfinished ads, asks for feedback, and provides rooms for opinions and comments, but a large amount of Best Buy employees are also blogging, tweeting, and on Facebook and are encouraged to do so. Internally, they use forums, wikis, and Voice Box. All of this involvement in social media has driven over 1 billion visitors to their websites every year.

Best Buy definitely knows the importance of digital communication to ensure a successful social media presence. They extend their buyer/seller relationship to be more meaningful through these different technologies and participation in social media. For Best Buy, they really showcase that it is all about better reaching their audience.

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Creating networks with social media is not something that will happen overnight – it is a commitment, something that takes dedication, time and resources.

Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less, wrote a guest post on Darren Rowse’s blog explaining the 7 steps it takes for building relationships with social media, blogs particularly. You can’t expect your audience to be sitting around waiting for you to finally start a blog, forum, or some other medium and come to you immediately once you do – you must go to them. You must reach out to your stakeholders. Liana Evans expands on this point, saying that if you communicate often, your community of followers will in return start to trust you will be there and will rely on you to have a post, comment, or tweet. You’ll know then that you have established a connection to your audience.

However, trust comes from more than just “being there” and being reliable to respond. You have to remember that people are taking time out to look at your blog, your Twitter, or maybe Facebook page. Responses and posts must be helpful to your readers; these are made for the purpose to get to know them better, so don’t forget that it’s about them, not you. You also want to encourage discussion, don’t only post your thoughts and facts, but ask readers what they think as well and always remember to thank them for their time, input, and comments.

A thank you always goes a long way and so does positivity when trying to build relationships. A positive attitude toward involving yourself in social media will not only make your networks more attractive, but will also help when presented with negative comments or criticisms. You want to accept criticisms and use tact to reply to them. You do not want to ignore criticisms because then frustration only builds and with social media, you may even be able to help in an immediate and direct manner. FedEx has learned through social media that you can uncover opportunities, and you can do it fast. They have been able to help with shipping frustrations as well as see and track packages within hours of shipping; all which they say could not have been done without their networks.

Like FedEx, you want to show you are listening. Communication is a two-way street and relationships depend on successful communication, therefore you probably want to use other channels than just a blog, or just a Twitter page. E-mails, e-newsletters and the like may give people who don’t have the chance to see every update on your blog a way to still be a part of the communication and to stay involved with your organization. That being said, you also want to involve yourself in others’ blogs and forums. Giving back on blogs will help develop and establish both a community of bloggers and a deeper connection and relationship to your audience – after all, people who respond to blogs, often have their own. Another benefit of being active with social media is that you may be able to pick up on a hot industry topic before many others do, and you can get a jump-start on early communication of that topic!

Social media is imperative in building relationships with your stakeholders; the success of your social media strategies depend on how well you know your audience and the “face” behind the organization that wants to get to know them better.

Once you realize that the reason to use social media is because that where your audience is, you can then ask yourself “What is the best technology to reach them?”

You can understand the necessity of utilizing social media tools to grow as an organization in today’s society, but understanding your audience is key – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn may all be great outlets, but unless your audience is there, you won’t have much success.

Relevant Social Media (video below) tells us that Generations X, Y, and Z are all prevalent on social media networking sites as well as the Baby Boomers, and the World War II generation- that’s all ages ranging from around 13 to 65 and over. The trick is to locate them; target audiences are not only divided by age but interests, professions, location etc.

We all want to create relationships with people who are interested in us as much as we are interested in them – it is no different for an organization. The age of the one-to-many communication is over, organizations must be inviting and engage their audience on a personal level.

The goal of social media is to create a sense of community by providing added value through your social media tactics and build trust with your stakeholders to establish a foundation for a relationship. Relationships with your audience will keep customers or employees coming back, generate word of mouth, and allow the audience to interact with the organization – through this, they are the ones to build your brand.